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Fresno Homeless Fight for Justice

by Mike Rhodes (editor [at]
The City of Fresno is attempting to evict the homeless from an encampment in downtown Fresno. The 4:28 minute video (below) is an interview with Christina Skaf Hathaway, staff attorney with Central California Legal Services, who is helping the homeless.
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Fresno Homeless Fight for Justice
By Mike Rhodes

About 50 homeless people and their supporters were in Fresno County Civil Court this afternoon. They were there to stop the eviction of homeless people living on a vacant lot at Ventura and F street. The City of Fresno has been trying to evict about 100 people from the encampment for the last month.

The city is seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that would give them the legal right to evict the residents in the encampment. They are so confident that they will get the TRO that they have already posted eviction notices which say the residents will be forced to move on Thursday. The judge did not issue the order today, saying he needed time to think about it.

The homeless marched from the encampment to the courthouse this afternoon. Several of them are represented by attorneys from Central California Legal Services (CCLS). Before court started, the room was filled with the homeless and their supporters. Someone had passed out American flags, which several people were holding. The bailiff announced that there would be no waving of flags during the hearing and if there was he would have the person committing the heinous act arrested.

An unexpected development in the hearing was the presence of two men who said they were the owners of the property. One of the city’s challenges in evicting the homeless has been that the owners of the property had died and the vacant lot was in probate. Robert and Walt Williams told the court that the city had told them that if they did not “cooperate” with the city and have the homeless evicted that they would have to pay for clean-up, having a fence built, and maintenance expenses. The brothers said they did not want any trouble with the city.

Assistant City Attorney Douglas Sloan said it is typical for the city to ask property owners “do you want trespassing laws enforced?” If the property owner agrees to “request” the eviction of the homeless, then they are not charged clean up and other fees. Sloan told the Williams brothers that they would work something out, since they were now cooperating. Attorneys for the homeless question whether the Williams brothers actually own the property where the homeless are living.

One of the owners of a portion of the lot where the homeless are living is Tom Richards. Richards is a developer in Fresno and owner of the Penstar group. He was also the chairperson of the City’s Committee to End Homelessness. This is the group that wrote the Fresno Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness. A City of Fresno official told me today that Richards has given the city the “go ahead” to evict the homelessness from his property.

Another tactic of the city attorneys today was to argue that the homeless had no right to due process in this case. They argued that the homeless were simply trespassing and were not entitled to defend themselves in court. The CCLS attorneys strenuously objected. Judge Corona said he was inclined to err on the side of due process, but did not make a ruling today.

Corona set a hearing for 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 27 in Department 97A, Judge Adolfo Corona, at the Fresno County Civil Courthouse at 2317 Tuolumne Street, Fresno.

For an earlier story about the city’s attempt to evict the homeless from this property, see:


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by Witness
It was really refreshing today to be in court and see people normally regarded as invisible, without any real power, be represented by themselves, advocates, and attorneys willing to assert their rights in court. This assertion of rights, in itself, brings dignity and resolve to homeless people.

It's what the constitution intended, that every person, regardless of state or stature, has a voice that must be heard.
by sick and tired
The last time they tried to evict this group they moved a block down the road where the residents were very bothered. So they moved back. Now the city is threatening the alleged property owners of the old spot?! If the city of Fresno won't put these people in homes or give them an opportunity to put themselves in homes then where the f*ck are they supposed to go? The homeless Czar Greg Barfield seems pretty incapable of doing anything effective despite the millions of dollars set aside for the homeless which the city is collecting interest on. The poverty pimps at the rescue mission and poverello house are raking in huge profits but not providing much in the way of services. Most homeless folk refuse to go to either because of the disrespectful, degrading way they are treated there.
Let them stay, give them access to a port-a-potty and maybe a dumpster, I'm sure they'd clean up the trash if there was somewhere to put it. Or maybe we should let them move into the Met, so many empty buildings and homes in this town, doesn't make sense for people to be living on the street.
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